Just because it’s winter does not mean you can’t make jam from local fresh fruit.
Guess what kind of jam I am making?
Apricot you say? They are a chancy crop around here and I never get enough to freeze for later to make jam in the winter. Nope, it’s pumpkin – as bright a jam as apricot jam , indeed. Cooked with a little ginger, of course!
When I was growing up “Confiture de Citrouille” was made all around. The pumpkin was cut up in largish cubes (or sliced fairly thinly) and then simmered in syrup perfumed with a vanilla bean or two. Here in the US the primary use of pumpkin seems to be pumpkin pie or bread (a cake, really). But let me tell you that pumpkin is eminently versatile as a vegetable (whether roasted, gratineed, pureed, souped, or stewed; in lasagna and tortellini) and as a fruit (candied, tart, ice-cream, jam, cake, flan, soufflé) and – of course – as both (chutney). Does that make it a well-rounded denizen of the vegetable kingdom or a vegetable with multiple personality disorder? mmm…
I have come across pumpkin jam recipes in old cookbooks and Southern ones, so it is surely not new. SO I am not sure why I have not come across it in the store (although I have seen pumpkin butter). But it is good, especially when made with ginger – one of my favorite spices (I can’t help it I grew up with the stuff – I suspect there was some in my baby food….). That twist I found in “Sensational Preserves” by Hilaire Walden.
Anyway, once you’ve made the stuff, you’ll find lots of way to use it: on toast, especially made from a rustic bread; with the traditional Virgina ham & biscuit – the sweet spiciness nicely offset the saltiness of the ham (always a hit at parties); in jam tarts and thumb-print cookies; over ice-cream or in ice-cream; cheese cake and ricotta tarts… and if you just want a little homemade something to give friends – it’s easy and you still have time to make it before Christmas. No need to drive yourself crazy hunting the stores. Just reach for that pumpkin!
Ginger Pumpkin Preserve
- fresh pumpkin (or other firm bright sweet winter squash)
- fresh ginger root
- Halve the pumpkin (or quarter depending on size) and bake until easily pierced (at 350F that’s 45 minutes to 1 hour). Let cool enough until comfortable to handle, remove and discard seeds. Scrape flesh from the skin (discard skin) and chop roughly. Do not make it smooth: you want some texture.
- Weight the pumpkin flesh. For each pound of pumpkin (500 g), measure a heaping 1 1/2 C of sugar (400 g), and a large piece of ginger – about the size of your thumb (30g).
- Peel, mince and pound the ginger to a paste (it’s OK if it’s not totally smooth). Mix all ingredients together in a large heavy-bottom non-reactive Dutch oven, and let sit in a cool place overnight or up to 24 hours.
- Slowly bring the mixture to boil, stirring as needed to prevent sticking. Gently boil for 15 minutes, stirring often. Pot up. Refrigerate or for longer storage process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath like any other jam.